For their latest project, Welcome, 2022, the Slovenian artist collective Kvadratni Meter (“square meter”) have turned the gallery into a vacation home rented out through Airbnb. The back entrance leads you into a spacious normcore fantasy, with the couch, the cushions, the carpets, and even the bedsheets all in the tasteful grayscale of an Ikea staged apartment. A simple white standing shelf marks off the sleeping area, while the hallway is rigged with a shower (a slightly cramped one, if you believe a tourist’s review.) The cliché is only exaggerated by the doormat and wall decorations, emblazoned with WELCOME and LOVE, and the cheesy canvases of New York, Paris, and London hung on the walls next to framed photos of Ljubljana.
The Slovenian capital has recently seen its public space shrink as downtown real estate has been snapped up as investment property, while the proliferation of Airbnb rentals has drastically inflated rents. The retooled gallery may offer a perfect “impersonal” living solution, but it remains the unaffordable dream of many young Slovenians.
To understand Welcome, one must either participate, by renting the premises, or find themselves in front of a closed exhibition space. In this sense, the piece functions as a cynical variation of New Genre Public Art: not activism, but an active demonstration how public spaces are withdrawn from their publics.
— Maximilian Lehner